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Will Israel Block Hagel as Defense Secretary?

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Cross-posted from Wallwritings


Former Nebraska Senator Charles (Chuck) Hagel (above right) may be nominated by President Barack Obama to be secretary of defense.

The President is known to like his old Senate colleague, a Republican who, like Obama, considered running for president in 2008. Unlike Obama, Hagel decided not to run.

Hagel, a Vietnam War veteran, would provide Obama with a Republican in the upper echelon of his second-term cabinet, a nice touch in a season when the American movie-going public is discovering Abraham Lincoln's 1865 "team of rivals" cabinet. The script for the film, Lincoln, is derived, in part, from Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.

What could possibly derail Chuck Hagel's nomination? He meets all the qualifications in personal conduct, political experience, and friendship with the president and colleagues in the U.S. Senate.

None of this matters to the pro-Israel forces that have lined up with their attacks on Hagel. To them, the former Nebraska Senator does not meet the  test of being "100 percent pro-Israel." For the neo-conservatives, where Hagel is concerned, as Sherlock Holmes has said, "the game is on."

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank describes how vicously the neo-cons play their game. Milbank reported that neo-con guru, Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, published a smear under the headline: "Senate aide: 'Send us Hagel and we will make sure every American knows he is an anti-Semite.'"

"In the posting, this anonymous aide went on to accuse Hagel of 'the worst kind of anti-Semitism there is.' As evidence, the article included a quotation from Hagel referring to the 'Jewish lobby.'"

The Weekly Standard writes that it has "obtained a fact sheet circulating widely on Capitol Hill." The fact sheet, according to the Standard, "details the record on a number of issues of former GOP senator Chuck Hagel, a leading candidate to be nominated by President Obama as the next secretary of defense."

The fact sheet focuses on issues neo-cons find unacceptable in a cabinet member. Of course, in any rational debate on Middle East politics, these same points could be seen as a positive reason to place Chuck Hagel in Obama's cabinet.

Here is the National Review' s "fact sheet" with its reasons to reject Hagel:

"1. In November 2001, Hagel was one of 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter requesting President Bush not meet with Yassir Arafat until forces linked to Arafat's Fatah party ceased attacks on Israel.

"2. In December 2005, Hagel was one of 27 Senators who refused to sign a letter to President Bush requesting the U.S. pressure the Palestinians to ban terrorist groups from participating in legislative elections.

"3. In July 2006, Hagel called on President Bush to demand an immediate cease-fire when Israel retaliated against Hezbollah after the terrorist group attacked Israel, abducted two IDF soldiers, and fired rockets at Israeli civilians.

"4. In August 2006, Hagel was only one of 12 senators who refused to sign a letter asking the EU to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization."

Politico used the headline, "Some Jews" object to Hagel, to summarize the case against Hagel. Some samples:

"The Times of Israel reported that 'the nomination of Hagel would likely worry Israel supporters, who have criticized the former Republican senator for what they see as a chilly stance toward the Jewish state.' The English-language Israeli publication cited Hagel's past positions on issues including the second Lebanon War in 2006 and Israel's dealings with former Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. ...

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http://wallwritings.wordpress.com/

James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced Jim's writings over (more...)
 

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